Marcelo Retamal has been Viña De Martino’s head winemaker since 1996. Marcelo continues to travel all over the world, visiting wine regions to keep on top of the latest trends and techniques in winemaking, which explains why his wines are so fantastic! On top of this, the Guide to Chilean Wines named Marcelo Winemaker of the Year in 2004, an accomplishment that Virgin Wines and De Martino are delighted to congratulate him on.
Marcelo is renowned for his constant and passionate hard work and his tireless search for something new and exciting. Marcelo studied Agronomy at the University of Concepcion and graduated in 1996, specializing in Oenology.
Straight after this, Marcelo was hired by Vina De Martino in Chile, where he has remained ever since.
Marcelo’s drive for perfection has resulted in a 12 year ‘Terroir’ project, which has seen him investigate the best places to grow particular varieties in Chile. Marcelo has now made wines in over 350 vineyards all over Chile.
The De Martino Winery
Pietro De Martino founded the De Martino winery in 1934. Pietro located the perfect site for the winery in the Maipo Valley, between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean. The De Martino site has grown tremendously since it’s inception and now has 300 organically managed hectares.
De Martino is still to this day, a family run vineyard, with everyone working under the concept ‘Family dedication makes the difference’.
What Marcelo says:
“We are expanding our Chilean wine boundaries at the moment by exploring the north and the south.
We have also explored the altitude in Choapa (part of the Coquimbo region in Chile) , producing a very elegant, spicy and mineral-ish Syrah.
Carmenere, Chile´s signal variety, is our baby. Since the day that we decided to bottle the first Carmenere, we decided to gather all of our efforts to create world-class wines. Los Coipos is a single plot in Curicó (in the Maule wine region), which produces a wine of great character. This vineyard is one of my favourites.
Cabernet, in Chile is like saying Cricket in the UK. The 347 Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine composed of carefully selected parcels of fruit from Maipo, Cachapoal and Maule. Enjoy this one with cheese or meats!.” Marcelo Remetal, Winemaker, De Martino Winery
Earthquake in Chile
“27 February 2010 is going to be a day that we will always remember.
At around 3AM we suffered from an earthquake measuring 8.8 (the fifth highest ever registered in history). Waking up at night, the first thing you do is to make sure that your loved ones are OK; after that, you analyze the whole situation around and try to understand what’s really happening or what it was that woke you up. After you fit the puzzle (with no information or electricity) you run to the vineyards and the cellars. Looking at the floor and realizing that you are walking over Single Vineyards or Legado Wines that have been cellared for more that a year is very shocking. Looking at the barrels all over the floor and some stainless steel tanks as well makes the scene even scarier. The family, winemakers, employees all come together more than ever, in order to fix the situation. The timing was not on our side as the earthquake was just before the harvest.
In regards to this last earthquake, we lost 13% of our wines; an incredible hit in a sentimental and financial way. I do believe that the strength of our country and culture are expressed in critical situations; and so it was in this case – throughout the whole industry, not just with us. After recovering from this incredible hit we were blessed by one of the best vintages (short in quantity though) that we have experienced. The funny thing is that when you walk around and realize that an earthquake took place 4 months ago you probably won’t realize it from the attitude of the people. You will see the joy and strength of a country that has to rebuild itself and doesn’t hesitate to move forward.” Sebastian De Martino, De Martino Winery
Q&A With Marcelo Remetal
What do you love/hate about your job?
“There are a lot of things I like about the profession; personally, without doubt, it’s the best job in the world; there’s a connection to the Earth and a product which can be enjoyed anywhere in the world. Furthermore, you get to travel a lot and it gives you the opportunity to get to know other cultures, people, places and cuisines.
What I don’t like about it are the planes; you have to travel a lot and Chile’s at the end of the world – it’s 13 hours from Europe and so it isn’t easy, but then again it’s nothing that a couple of double vodka tonics before takeoff can’t solve!”
What is your biggest achievement and why?
“I don’t find talking about my own achievements very easy, every prize and every award has its moment and its significance. If I had to name one, however, I think I’d go for 2009 when I was named ‘Winemaker of the Decade’ in Chile, an award given by the Guía de Vinos de Chile.”
Which three famous people would you like to invite to a dinner party and why?
- “Maradona: the greatest footballer in the history of the game. I don’t know what we’d talk about, but sitting down with him and having a drink would be incredible.
- “Steve Harris: the genius behind Iron Maiden. Here I think the wine would only be for starters, then I reckon that liquor would be more apt for this guy.
- “Catherine Z Jones: Unbelievable, I think that says enough.”
In wine, what is saintly and what is devilish?
“The worst thing about wine is the arrogance that comes with drinking the biggest, most expensive wines in the world, those who, without knowing much about wine, put a bottle of some prestigious Chateaux on the table to grab people’s attention, and they think that that’s the way to treat wine.
The best thing about it is quite the opposite; understanding wine to be a simple product of the Earth, of nature, something which is a long way off the arrogance with which this noble product is sometimes regarded, that simple yet complex wine which you can quaff, which can be picked out amongst the rest, which can accompany meals, which leaves us content and which lets us share some great times, that’s wine.”
What the best thing that someone has ever said to you about a bottle of your wine?
“There are always plenty of adjectives, moments and people, but I remember a time when Olly Smith, an English journalist, told me that our wines and our winemaking was a mix between the perfectionism of Stanley Kubrick and the madness and irreverence of Martin Scorsese.”